A Letter from Artist Jane O'Sullivan

I got a letter last week.

Jane O'Sullivan had quite a big, impressive, 'anyone else and it would have been intimidating' exhibition on recently, because Jane is a real life actual artist. Or rather this is what my brain decided while my eyes sparkled in sheer, borderline creepy admiration.

Against all logic, and mental training I still imagine a massive divide between 'Real Artists' and 'People Who Piss About Making Zines Like Me'. I eternally defend zines as a medium and stress their intrinsic value to anyone I manage to wedge into a corner. Zines provide a medium that is accessible to everyone, they're beautiful, genuine, simplistic. The people who make them know that they won't make any money, or gain any prestige from their little publication. It is a raw communication, an item produced in order for it to simply exist. I've made zines just for myself, to remind myself, to treat myself. I've made zines to grow myself and share myself. So I am very defensive about zines and what they are and what they can be.

I imagine real artists to be people who actually have jobs and wouldn't for a second lower themselves to the level of something that has been photocopied. That our grubby productions were below the snobbery of 'the art world'. That we're keeping it real while those lauded as real artists are tainted by want for recognition and monetary gain. This was a serious mental divide, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed, because I obviously really like the idea that I'm completely untainted by things like 'wanting to make a living' or 'living in a capitalist society that merits things based on monetary value', floating about my day in my own smug bubble of self righteousness. 

So Jane is, amongst many, many other things, a reality check for me. She is a 'Real Artist'. Very very much a 'Real Artist'. Producing beautiful, delicate, intimate artwork that is exhibited at a Real Life Actual Gallery.  But she also, makes DIY, handmade, small circulation publications. I used to be reluctant to even call them 'zines' because so much time and craftsmanship went into them and called them 'Art Books' or something similar to emphasize that they couldn't be lumped in with my grubby black and white pamphlets like mine. Hers would be hand stitched, with handmade paper, using original photos she had taken herself.

But they absolutely are zines, because zines can look whatever way the producer decides. And Jane is there, at every single zine event, talking to me about the importance of these events to get your work out there and just be present. To be present, interacting with people who are interested in your work, for your work to be accessible. I think it speaks volumes that one artist has managed to confuse my overly simplistic world view so much. She shows me that 'real' artists are just in my imagination. 

I missed her exhibition because of stupid reasons (I was sick and then I couldn't find the gallery because Bing Maps is the absolute worst thing to ever happen) so she sent me this amazing pack of pictures and programs from the exhibit so that I wouldn't feel like I'd missed out. I didn't get to her exhibition so she sends me bits of her exhibition. 

And can we just talk about her epic titles?
The brackets kill me, like it's an aside or a reminder to yourself.
This is excellent, humorous, lighthearted, a rambled explanation when none is necessary.
And Elinore herself!
I think this one is my favourite
I need a bell jar

And Jane herself.
I made a little collage of all the lovely photos together
Thanks so much Jane xx

1 comment:

  1. Dearest Lou, what a sweet and lovely thing of you to do.
    Its my pleasure to know you , you inspire me.
    Thank you
    Jane x